What is it?
Diabetes is a group of chronic metabolic conditions that affect the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels due to deficits in insulin secretion and/or insulin action. There are three main types of diabetes including:
- Type 1 Diabetes: results in no insulin production and accounts for approximately 10% of cases of diabetes worldwide.
- Type 2 Diabetes: main form of diabetes characterised by impaired insulin response and production and represents approximately 85-95% of diabetes cases worldwide.
- Gestational diabetes: Glucose intolerance that begins or is first diagnosed during pregnancy.
Pre-diabetes is diagnosed when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classed as diabetes. Quite often when left unmanaged, people living with pre-diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes. The best way to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is by exercising regularly and diet. A large lifestyle study found that exercise and diet is more effective than medication in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes in those living with pre-diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
In Type 2 diabetes the body produces insulin but the cells in the body do not respond effectively to the insulin to send glucose into the muscles. This leads to high blood glucose levels, when left unmanaged this leads to complications such as damage to eyes, kidneys and nerves.
How dietetics and exercise physiology services help manage type 2 diabetes
What you eat directly affects your blood glucose levels. Therefore, it is very important that you clearly understand and maintain healthy eating habits. The types of carbohydrates you eat (bread, biscuits, rice, fruit, sweets etc) are of specific importance because these can affect your blood glucose levels the most. The timing, amount and type of food you eat can make a huge difference in your ability to control your blood sugar when you’re managing type 2 diabetes. Consulting a dietitian can help you plan a healthy diet to best optimize managing blood glucose levels, lose weight and better manage your type 2 diabetes.
Regular physical activity and exercise are essential to lowering and maintaining blood glucose levels. Exercise can Influence glucose uptake; short and long-term exercise can improve glucose uptake into the working muscles. By improving glucose uptake and increasing insulin sensitivity, exercise can, therefore, improve the control of blood glucose levels. Other benefits of exercise include weight loss, reduced blood pressure and improved heart health. These are all important in order to prevent the complications of diabetes. As with your diet, exercise also varies in type, amount and frequency in order to reach your specific diabetes management plan.